Friday, December 4, 2009

John Piper Vs Rob Bell - Which Gospel Are You Trusting

Click Here To Read Rob Bell Takes Off His Sheep Suit for my latest post concerning the scandal surrounding Rob Bell's "Love Wins" video and John Piper's renunciation of Rob Bell.

I guess it is a fair question to ask why Rob Bell has featured on my last four posts. After all, there are far better things to talk about. But I am continually asked for information regarding Rob Bell by concerned church goers who are continually bombarded by his teaching during church services and youth meetings. As a final installment I thought it might be appropriate to contrast the gospel according to Rob Bell with the Gospel according to John Piper. Bell says "you are the gospel". Piper says "God is the Gospel". What a great contrast. They cannot both be right no matter how much postmodern spin doctoring you try to do. Which Gospel are you trusting because one leads to eternal life and the other is a road to eternal damnation . . .

Clicke Here to see James White's critique of Bell's video.


Apeleutheros said...

It's cool to read this today. I just got done working on a school application and one of the last questions it asked was "What is the Gospel?"

I don't like to quote myself often but this is a part of what I had written in my answer:

"The Gospel is who God is, it is what God has done, it is His work and it is our salvation."

gandalf said...

Just heard the two vids.
I must say, a good choice of yours to put these two side by side.

Some formal observations:
- Rob Bell had a very attractive narrative
- Rob Bell however failed to show what is at stake, especially since he went a lot into history he should know about the futility of any human attempt (including the "christian" medieval Europe) to achieve the healing of the world.
- John Piper's account was not a systematic approach like his six point explanation he gave in context with the Gospel coalition (link is given below), therefore completeness was sacrificed for personal story (good!).

Regarding the content:
- Rob Bell was blurry at every "supernatural", transcendent issue and some were not mentioned at all. So he was very post-modern but far away from traditional christianity of the last two millennia
- Rob Bell was much more precise in describing the work of the church, what it is supposed to do in the world. Missing was the work called "make disciples" and the one "deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me". Maybe he thinka following Jesus is all about being "good" to others and to the world?
- Rob Bell was mostly corporately speaking, towards the end he made some issues regarding personal brokenness, however he seemed to see it as a mere reflection of the corporate brokenness of the world. So maybe he thinks, people are sinners because of their "milieu", their social environment and not because they personalLy make wrong choices and do evil?.
- John Piper spoke mostly about the achievement of Christ and it's application. He had another video where he gave a more systematic approach to the Gospel (but that missed any narrative), where he outlined six elements.
- a plan from eternity
- an event in history
- an achievement through that event
- an offer to men
- an application by men through faith
- for the purpose to bring us back to God
That video however lacks in my opinion that the offer is applied through faith AND repentance, not that I think that Piper doesn't see it that way, it's just not explicitly mentioned there.

I think Rob Bell should do some reading of Tom Wright "Surprised by Hope" to get his eschatology fixed, his presentation seems to explain it in a way that we are building the kingdom in the here and now.

John Wise said...

The word gospel means good news and was a political word used when the emperor won a victory (the good news of Caesar's victory in battle). Jesus told us to proclaim the good news of his fulfillment of the covenant, sacrificial death, and victory over death. Saying we are the good news just means that our lives should prove the gospel is true. The way we live, work, love, etc should be proof that Jesus has risen from the dead (John Newton who was a slave catcher became a minister, MLK's work). It is similar to saying we are the only Bible some people read, having a problem with Bell saying that is just being nitpicky.

Andy said...

Bell did an excellent job of portraying the gospel. The entire video had N.T. Wright overtones, and Bell has even written a blurb on the back of Wrights "Surprised by Hope".
I agree with John when he said,

"Saying we are the good news just means that our lives should prove the gospel is true".

Jesus is the gospel, and the gospel transforms our lives, and our lives are evidence of the transforming power of the gospel.

Jared said...

Rob Bell's presentation seems intended for an audience of believers, those who already have a foundation in the truth of the saving grace of God. It's a reminder to be the hands and feet of Christ in a broken world. Piper's message seems to be directed more to those who may not know Christ. I think both statements can be right. God is the Gospel. The good news refers to his offer of salvation and our ability to regain right-standing with Him through Christ's death, burial and resurrection through faith and repentance. Once we have been redeemed, we become vessels by which Christ can be preached to others. We are the Gospel in the sense that we are to be tools in proclaiming Christ and making disciples. If living out our faith, proclaiming the good news of Christ with our lives, is not the Gospel, what shall we call it?

Anonymous said...

I will go along with Jared... Context and audience is important...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for these videos and posts concerning Rob Bell. I have read The Velvet Elvis and as a young Christian didn't really understand that there was anything wrong with what he was saying. After much research and debate, I do see the danger in what Rob Bell claims to be the Gospel (not just in this video but in other quotes as well). Thanks for the info!

Alex said...

I think there are a lot of assumptions being made in this post. The most obvious one is that some how Piper and Bell are in opposition to each rather than just describing two different aspects of the same God. Now I think both of these videos can be used to manipulate people into believing a false gospel but only if you are allowing yourself to assume things that were never actually said.

In watching Piper's video (which I loved by the way) I think it is possible for people to hear his sermon and assume that since there wasn't historical context and there was such an emphasis on supernatural acts that he actually thinks that the historical story of Christ was some sort of fairy tale. I don't think that is what Piper is saying at all, but if you listen to that video with that assumption you can easily come to that conclusion.

Rob Bell did talk in depth about history and did talk in depth about our role in the Gospel but always through the context of how Christ works in us, it wasn't like Christ or scripture was miraculously absent or even being distorted it was simply he took an approach which focused more on historical context and on our role in spreading the gospel. He never said not to make disciples but rather he said that because of the change that Christ makes in our lives we should be making disciples just by existing, I think that gives even more weight to the way that Christ is moving through Bells understanding of the Gospel.

Ultimately I don't understand why these two must be in opposition to each other. You say Piper is about God and Bell is about self but in actuality both talk about the sovereingty of God and both talk about our role in that. You cannot remove our decisions and the way Christ moves in us out of the Gospel or else you have a worthless Gospel and like Piper said you think the Gospel is just something you use to convert yourself or others. It's an absolute change in life style. I think these two videos are just simply about two different things while both hinging on the concept of the Gospel. Not to mention the Gospel is not one set thing in scripture, it is used to mean good news and Paul even says a couple of times that he is bringing the gospel and does speak a word of the resurrection. Does that mean Paul didn't think Christ rose from the dead? No, he was bringing the good news of Christ in a very specific way. The Gospel is bigger than whatever skewed perception any of us have of it, and to say that these two videos which are in no way contradictory are some how in opposition to each other only serves to illustrate that narrow view of the gospel which runs through all of your lives. The question I guess I'm asking is, I understand you think they are opposed, but how can they be reconciled? Just try for a moment to see a God that could believe equally in both of these things, can you see that God? Or is that just something you can't believe in?

David Ford said...

Hi Cameron,

To be honest, I am not trusting either rendition of the gospel here. Mr Bell doesn't count, but I did listen to the Piper video and not once did I hear the apostolic proclamation to "Repent and Believe for the Righteousness of God which is the by the faith of Jesus Christ which was declared for the forgiveness of your sin." Piper has seriously lost the plot in peddling a salvation by striving gospel. He might as well become a papist! Just watch this video...

Piper's disposition is always pious, fleshly, imperfect, and striving in spirit, where Paul & Peter speak openly about being "Dead to sin such that we might become the righteousness of God in him" and "He that is dead is freed from sin" & "that we, being dead to sin should live unto righteousness". Death and regeneration by daily repentance and faith for righteousness such that we "perfect holiness in the fear of God" does not enter Piper's vernacular - because he denies the power of the spirit we are given and how really "dead" we become by virtue of the above grace. Piper has a "form of Godliness, but denies the power thereof". I am not only afraid of Piper, I am afraid for him as well, because he has fully bewitched the Baptist movement with this pious self righteous fraud, denial of a perfect atonement & full regeneration, & replacement theology amongst other things.

If he is the best the General Baptist movement has to offer then I guess I'll just have to become a least they acknowledge faith for wholesale regeneration!.

Hope you are keeping well.
In Christ

ebayjim said...

"I guess I'll just have to become a least they acknowledge faith for wholesale regeneration!."

Yeah, then (most groups) fall short and see the need to get 'saved' again.

To Rob Bell - No, I am NOT the Gospel. God is the gospel in the person of Jesus Christ.

Anonymous said...

What a fair assessment you made in your opening comments. Very conversational to both sides.... Not. How ignorant.

Cameron Buettel said...

Anonymous, I agree I should have been more fair in my opening comments. Rob Bell's presentation is retarded and has nothing to do with Christianity. Bell hates the true Gospel and feels the need to constantly undermine and attack it as we will see in this Wednesday's post. This is what an enemy of the Gospel does. Attack the real one, invent a false one, and lead his flock down the wide and easy road to hell.

But out of interest, I am curious if you can find ANY of Bell's ideas in Scripture. Here is a couple of places where I have found them:

Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. (Romans 16:17)

6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—
7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.
8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.
9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:6-9)

Anonymous said...

mmm, the smell of arrogance. Today was my first day to read any of your blog, I'm astonished at your complete grasp of the gospel and all theology that reigns superior to all who don't see it 100% your way. Your responses to Unkle truly troubled me. He actually knows how to have a conversation, namely, with an open mind. When I say open mind, I do not mean one that separates from the gospel. And watching your video of Rob Bells Gospel spill, Rob does not take away from the Gospel. He just doesnt use the words you like. I fully understand this is your blog and you get to have the final say over people. From the outside looking in, there are some issues on the table more important than heresy hunting. (this is where you accuse me of putting words in your mouth, and profess your concern for my pacifists outlook on false doctrine.) Dont worry though, ill be fine. Also know, I dont think this is some slam of you that is original or anything, i dont even know you. Im sure you are actually a good guy that cares about the gospel, the poor, the widows, and the orphans(i mean this sincerely). I would just encourage more conversation, less judgement. Believe it or not, a LOT of people dont agree with you and the things you call heretical would not be called heretical(even by diligent followers of Jesus Christ and the Word of God). Off to bed for me. Now go call Piper and get him to email you a response.

Anonymous said...

If I understand this current debate about who is the proper Christian, God's word is the tennis ball, Christians are the tennis players, the Holy Spirit represents the fans, Jesus is the referee and only God knows the actual score and the actual prize. The Holy Spirit, Jesus and God know what everyone thinking and living in their heart. Thanks!

johnny said...

Piper has alot of truth, but I'm quite sure he believes that God turned himself into a baby. And that is sad.

johnny said...

Piper also believes that dead people are not dead. Also very sad.

Anonymous said...

Believers nitpicking two short moments out of Piper's and Bell's bodies of work for Christ; why be like Pharisees when there is so much important work to do in the Kingdom of God?

Alice Harding said...

They can't both be right, but they can both be wrong, and I think they are BOTH wrong.

Steve Meikle said...

I reject them both. Bell denies the eternity of hell because he finds the notion uncongenial; and that is the core of his thought. His twisting of Greek (aiwnwn twn aiwnwn ALWAYS means of eternal duration lest God's kingdom is only temporary) comes from his outlook and are shown to be twistings simply by studying the context of the Greek words. IOW this is not honest scholarship

But Piper I reject as he is a legalist who believes in striving after the flesh. When he says, in other videos, "MAKE WAR ON YOUR SINS" he leads christians to forsake Christ for the law, for repentance is a gift of grace which when genuine cleanses of sin as part of the process which is sanctification. I did make war on my sins and had been doing so for decades, and agony and despair was thee result. it was striving in the flesh, based on pure unbelief, and the doctrinal justification for it is deadly heresy, deadly as it is the most deceptive of the heresies